STURDIVANT v. COLVIN
ORDER THAT PLFF'S OBJECTIONS ARE OVERRULED. THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION IS APPROVED & ADOPTED. PLFF'S REQUEST FOR REVIEW IS DENIED. THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER IS AFFIRMED. SIGNED BY HONORABLE JOHN R. PADOVA ON 9/6/16. 9/7/16 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kw, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security
AND NOW, this 6th day of September, 2016, upon consideration of Plaintiff’s Motion
for Summary Judgment and Brief and Statement of Issues in Support of Request for Review
(Docket No. 10), Defendant’s Response thereto, Plaintiff’s Reply, the Report and
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell (Docket No. 22), and
Plaintiff’s Objections thereto (Docket No. 23), , IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
Plaintiff’s Objections are OVERRULED.
The Report and Recommendation is APPROVED and ADOPTED. 1
Claimant Sturdivant argued in his Brief that the ALJ failed to give proper weight to his
history of unsuccessful treatment for back and knee pain in assessing his residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) and rejected his claim on the ground that there was no evidence of disc
herniation, nerve root impingement, or muscle atrophy, indicating fairly normal movement. The
Magistrate Judge recommends that, while the ALJ noted the absence of these conditions, (1) her
RFC analysis also included a discussion of Sturdivant’s medical records and his own testimony,
(2) she was entitled to weigh all of the evidence and make reasonable inferences, and (3) her
decision does not suggest that the mere lack of disc herniation, nerve root impingement, or
muscle atrophy were conclusive, but rather part of the whole picture of claimant’s condition.
Sturdivant objects that the lack of certain objective evidence does not negate the presence of
other objective findings that support his allegation of disabling pain. The objection is overruled.
The Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the ALJ applied the appropriate legal standard to
the evidence as a whole in reaching her conclusion on the level of claimant’s pain and her RFC
determination is fully supported by the record and is approved and adopted.
Sturdivant argued in his Brief that the ALJ failed to include his cognitive limitations —
moderate restriction in concentration, persistence or pace, moderate impairment in social
functioning, and the need to avoid light because of migraine headaches — in the RFC, and in
hypothetical questions to the vocational expert. The Magistrate Judge recommends that there
was no reversible error because, based on a record where no medical source suggested that
cognitive impairments precluded Sturdivant from working, the ALJ properly accounted for the
cognitive restrictions at steps two and three of the sequential evaluation process to rate the
severity of Sturdivant’s mental impairments under section 12.00 of the Commissioner’s Listings
Plaintiff’s Request for Review is DENIED.
The Decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
BY THE COURT:
/s/John R. Padova
John R. Padova, J.
of Impairments, and that this evaluation was separate from the RFC analysis at step four of the
process, where the ALJ properly used a more detailed assessment of various mental functions
from those found in paragraph B of Listing 12.00.
Sturdivant’s objection to this
recommendation, which restates the legal and factual arguments he raised in his Brief, is
overruled. The Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the ALJ properly considered the
cognitive restrictions in the multi-step evaluation process is fully supported by the record and is
approved and adopted.
The Magistrate Judge also recommends that the ALJ’s partial negative credibility
determination regarding Sturdivant’s asserted inability to sustain work was supported by
substantial evidence. He objects that the evidence that he engages in frequent mental health
treatment therapies is not substantial evidence supporting the negative credibility determination
on his ability to sustain work. The objection is overruled. The Magistrate Judge noted that the
evidence upon which the ALJ relied included not only his attendance at thrice weekly NA
meetings, but also his testimony that he is able to shop, use public transit, travel, attend a public
rally and participate in other community activities, attend religious services and take an active
role in a church leadership group, assist his grandmother with household chores, prepare meals
and care for his children, and maintain friendships. The Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that
the ALJ’s partial negative credibility determination was supported by substantial evidence is
fully supported by the record and is approved and adopted.
Sturdivant next objects to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation that the ALJ’s failure
to specifically mention several of his GAF scores was not reversible error. This objection is
overruled. The Magistrate Judge correctly determined that GAF scores are to be considered in
the overall context of a claimant’s medical condition, not every piece of record evidence need be
cited by the ALJ, and that the ALJ’s summary of the record included the pertinent medical
source observations and opinions. We also approve and adopt the Magistrate Judge’s related
recommendation that the ALJ adequately explained why she relied on the opinion of the state
agency psychological consultant in reaching her mental RFC conclusion.
Finally, we overrule Sturdivant’s objection to the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that
remand was not warranted. We agree with the Magistrate Judge’ determination that “new”
evidence he has produced — a doctor’s “check box” form, unsupported by any other
documentation, stating he is disabled, and a progress note indicating his diabetes is not well
controlled but not suggesting how this would impact his ability to work — would not have
changed the ALJ’s decision. See Szubak v. Sec. of Health & Human Servs., 745 F.2d 831, 833
(3d Cir. 1984) (stating there must be a “reasonable possibility that the new evidence would have
changed the outcome”).
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